Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper, expected to play an integral role for his team this season after teammate Jeremy Maclin went down with a torn anterior cruciate ligament early in training camp, was caught on camera recently dropping the a racial slur (the N-word) at a Kenny Chesney concert.
Deadspin.com first posted the video Tuesday afternoon, and Cooper was quick to address his racist remark head-on.
“I am so ashamed and disgusted with myself,” he said in a statement. “I want to apologize. I have been offensive. I have apologized to my coach, Jeffrey Lurie, and Howie Roseman, and to my teammates. I owe an apology to the fans and to this community. I am so ashamed, but there are no excuses. What I did was wrong and I will accept the consequences.”
Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie subsequently released a statement of his own: “We are shocked and appalled by Riley Cooper’s words. This sort of behavior or attitude from anyone has no role in a civil society. He has accepted responsibility for his words and his actions. He has been fined for this incident.“
The NFL league office soon followed suit: “The NFL stands for diversity and inclusion. Comments like this are wrong, offensive, and unacceptable.”
The fine assessed to Cooper appears to have been substantial as he told the media it was for a “good amount of money…but that’s really not important. The situation should not have [gone down] the way I dealt with it.”
Cooper explained that he was drunk during the concert and made the remark at an African-American security guard after an altercation, though he noted that being under the influence of alcohol was “no excuse for what I said and what I did.” He also said the N-word is not a term he normally uses and that he had never uttered it before.
“I’m extremely embarrassed, I’m extremely hurt and extremely sorry for my actions,” he said. Cooper added that he explained the entire situation to his team’s ownership, management and coaching staff and is “willing to accept any consequences.”
“This is kind of the lowest of the lows. This isn’t the type of person I want to be portrayed as. This is’t the type of person I am. I’m just extremely sorry,” Cooper said.
He also said that he hopes to address his actions with his teammates. “I’m going to tell them exactly what I’m telling you [the media] – how extremely sorry I am. I should have never said what I said. Most of the ones that know me, which excludes the rookies coming in, they know what type of person I am.”
He continued: “I don’t use that term. I was raised way better than that. I got a great mom and dad at home, and they are disgusted in my actions.”
UPDATED – 9 p.m.: After Cooper held a meeting with his teammates, a number of them spoke to the media about the situation and expressed their personal opinions. The below quotes are courtesy of USA Today.
Quarterback Michael Vick: “Riley is still my teammate. And he just stood in front of us as a man and apologized for what he said. And somewhere deep down, you have to find some level of respect for that. Riley wished he never said it. [...] We understand the magnitude of this situation, we understand a lot of people may be hurt and offended. But I know Riley Cooper. I’ve been with him for three years and I know what type of person he is. That’s what makes it easy, at the same time hard to understand the situation. I forgave him.”
Safety Kurt Coleman: “I’m a man of mixed culture, I’m bi-racial, so I understand everything. Do I feel the comment was insensitive? Yeah. And he knows that. I’ve been called a lot of things. But I think Riley is a good man. I really do. I have his back. It’s going to build a lot of character in him. It’s a tough situation, but we’ve got to move together as a team.”
Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox: “I still look at him as one of my brothers. He stood up like a man and we all applauded that he stood up like a man to apologize in front of everybody. Everybody makes mistakes.”